A Measly 96 hours in Brazil…. #96HOURSINBRAZIL

A Measly 96 hours in Brazil….

Going to Brazil means being dazzled by food!

 Hashtag us at #96hoursinbrazil

     “We have been planning this pop-up restaurant event for more than two month now”, says Chef Ricardo Passarelli the owner of 170 Bistro in Itajuba, Brazil.

       Itajuba is a budding international (business) city a few hours outside the financial capital of Brazil.

        Chef Ricardo Passarelli owner of 170 Bistro in Itajuba, Brazil invited cookbook author and Miami chef Michael Bennett here because we knew his latest cookbooks were exactly what we wanted to feature at our restaurant to ensure our grasp as the best restaurant in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.

 Example recipe 

at the end of this article

that will be apart of my new Cookbook

Interview with a Mango

170 Bistro Miami Nights
The first culinary expo in Itajuba, Brazil held at #170Bistro

 

Before all this can happen….

      Getting into Brazil usually means journeying to the booming affluence that anchors the country — São Paulo.

Our 96 hours in Brazil (#96hoursinbrazil) starts in the the city that is the powerhouse in Brazil that pays the tab for the rest of the Brazil’s material comfort. The São Paulo (Sampa) failings — of incredibly high prices and most prolifically your non-stop awareness that you could end up being a statistic of street crime; even when added together, are still not enough to deter the millions of noteworthy vagabonds seeking out São Paulo’s artistic and business energy snarled mutually together with a relentless and, stimulating 24 hour a day joie de vivre.

#96hoursinbrazil 

Where to Start Your Travels in SamPa (São Paulo – as locals call it) – Brazil…

  •        A São Paulo suburb – Brooklin, is an area just a stone’s throw from São Paulo’s Wall Street (Paulista Avenue) is being celebrated for its rise among the ranks of São Paulo’s best neighborhoods to experience South American culture and it’s food.

If you are here on Sunday you’re in luck if you are visiting Sampa than that means one thing Pizza. You should never leave this city without trying your closest pizza palace. São Paulo has become home to over five million folks from Italy and, they brought their food heritage – that has delivered to the tune of more than 5000 pizzerias, strewn across this mega-metropolis of 15 million South Americans. This city’s favorite is a New York City stylized restaurant called Braz. When you go, bring a heavy wallet and the empty stomach because São Paulo’s best will tempt your tastebuds with the revelation that Brazil is a damn good place to find a (Brazilian) wood-fire pizza.

Sampa’s incessant compulsion for eclectic fare is reinforced with the pervading din of Brazil’s most significant Foodies.  This single-minded contagious energy, that invigorates these frenzied metropolitan denizens, seemingly always has these perpetually tanned, wide-eyed smiles that always great you with an never-ending thumbs-up signs by everyone you stumble across.

My new Brazilian family
My new Brazilian family

Brazil’s Table… it is a harmony of diversity

Brazil is a country that is unified by its indulging yet, it is regionally divided by the deficiency of the practice. It is if you deliberate the contradictions in food heritage; culture, accolades and antipathies of the people who live in Iowa to those who live in Florida. This dissimilar display of fluctuating regional preferences at times share our American dining habits, yet a pattern in Brazil illustrates a harmony that is a diverse as it is similar. How can a culture be so diverse and at the same time similar? Food brings the well-off and deprived together in common ways! Rice, beans, coffee and cake link all Brazilians as they sit down to a meal.

 

Chef Ricardo Passarelli  owner of 170 Bistro and Chef Michael Bennett  tslk food.
Chef Ricardo Passarelli owner of 170 Bistro and Chef Michael Bennett talk food.

       If you are traveling in Brazil on a weekend, you will have to try the nationalized recipe called; feijoada – that can be found on any weekend dinner table and, seemingly has to be overindulged in to taste the heritage of Brazil, is the classic Brazilian recipe of black bean stew brimming with every part of a pig and is as much as part of the National Brazilian past time, as it is a daily fiscal necessity for the Brazilian populace.

#96hoursinbrazil

        Bolo: Brazilians love cake, which they call Bolo. In fact, it is one food that can be eaten at any time of the day. It is available at restaurants, corner shops, street vendors, gas stations, road stop intersections and generally any place that sells food. Bolo is often made with corn flour (like polenta) instead of wheat flour and is sometimes made with a combination of the two, giving it a different texture than what you expect in the USA.

       Brazil has always been recognized as being the world’s best source of great coffee. It is part of the Brazilian culture and you should never refuse a cup of coffee when one is offered to you at a restaurant or, by a new S.A. friend. So, downplay your state of consciousness and simply enjoy the rich roasted flavors of the humble coffee bean.

Coffee in Brazil #96hoursinbrazil
Every where coffee sends a welcoming note

 

Shopping in the Centro Market in São Paulo – is where we started our Pop-Up restaurant mission.

.

Located in São Paulo’s Centro district, our culinary journey starts with more than just a starling acknowledgement that this is a city the screams FOOD! São Paulo’s Marketplace is where we start our culinary excursion…..

Sao Paluo Cento market
The Sao Paulo Centro market place is where everyone shops for dinner.

São Paulo’s #96hoursinbrazil

Salted Cod on display
Shopping for Salted Codfish at Sao Paulo’s Centro market
Michael Bennett in Sao Paulo
Chef and author Michael Bennett in Brazil shopping at the Cento market in Sao Paulo #96hoursinbrazil
Fruit at the market
Food at the #SaoPaulo #centro #market #96hoursinbrazil
Wine selection for #Miaminights
Wine selection for #Miaminights
Chef Ricardo Passarelli (left) and Chef Michael Bennett
Chef Ricardo Passarelli (left) and Chef Michael Bennett shopping at Centro Market
Love #Spanish #proscuitto ? Here we have Serrano Jamon  a great selection ranging from $300.00 to $800.00
Love #Spanish #proscuitto ? Here we have Serrano Jamon a great selection ranging from $300.00 to $800.00

#NYTIMESTRAVEL

Fruit selection in Brazil #nytcooking
Fruit selection in Brazil   @nytcooking
Chef Michael shopping in #saoPaulo
Chef Michael shopping in #SaoPaulo @NYTdining
Tasting the tropical treasures on display in #brazil
Tasting the tropical treasures on display in #brazil

 #96hoursinbrazil

Outside the Centro market, Soa Paulo, Brazil

Cheese is so important to Brazil's dinner table we had to add it to the #MiamiNights menu #nytcooking
Cheese is so important to Brazil’s dinner table we had to add it to the #MiamiNights menu #NYTdining
Shopping in Brazil #nytimestravel
Shopping in Brazil #nytimestravel

Get here early – before 12 PM.

        The place is almost empty after 4 pm and a lot of the vendors move their products out of the confines of the walled marketplace and set it out onto the surrounding streets for sale during the rest of the evening.

Once we completed our hunting and gathering for our pop-up restaurant event, we jumped in the SUV and headed out of the city. Depending on the time of day, it might take you as much time getting out of downtown at rush hour as it would crossing the entire state of São Paulo’s in the middle of the night. So my hint for you is to grab some pizza or, fuel up at a Churrascaria, before gassing up and starting off.

Itajuba, Brazil; a place that speaks to what it is like to live all of your life in the same village you grew up in.

City marker for Itajuba
City marker for Itajuba

Finding your way to this provincial town  might be one that was a happy mistake by any adventurous Brazilian trekker. There are copious explanations yet unseen that will make you happy you found this animated village among the Minas Gerais highlands.

#96hoursinBrazil

Cities always grew up around the chruch
Cities always grew up around the church
Driving through the coldest city in Brazil
Driving through the coldest city in #Brazil
Home at the base of the mountain range that separates Sao Paulo and rio de Jeniero
Home at the base of the mountain range that separates Sao Paulo and Rio de Jeniero
Small villages spread across Brazilian countryside
Small Villages spread across Brazilian countryside
#travel in #brazil
Traveling Brazil, #96hoursinbrazil
Tiny villages across Brasil #96hoursinbrazil #nytimestravel
Tiny villages across Brasil #96hoursinbrazil @nytimestravel
#96hoursinbrazil
Mountain village in Brazil #96hoursinbrazil

Itajuba, Brazil is about half way between Rio De Janeiro and São Paulo’s on the north side of the Serra da Mantiqueira mountain range – that runs between the capital of Brazil and Brazil’s quasi capital (Rio). It is also the intersection of the other two cities that I came to love; Campos Do Jordao (the city that Switzerland lost during the continent drift) and Sao Lourenco (the water city) both are equally separated by Itajuba yet; seem similar because of the city’s welcoming residents.

traveling across Brazils countryside #96hoursinbrazil
Traveling across Brazil’s countryside #96hoursinbrazil
traveling across Brazils countryside #96hoursinbrazil
Traveling across Brazil’s countryside #96hoursinbrazil
traveling across Brazils countryside #96hoursinbrazil
Traveling across Brazil’s countryside #96hoursinbrazil
traveling across Brazils countryside #96hoursinbrazil
Traveling across Brazil’s countryside #96hoursinbrazil

Why we are here today…

       Miami Nights is the pop-up restaurant that was the brain child of Chef Ricardo Passarelli, the owner of Itajuba’s 170 Bistro. Chef Passarelli wanted to make his restaurant the “Zero Point” for culinary awakenings in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. He decided that the menu had to reflect love of the city chef Passarelli once called home – Miami, Florida.


ricardo cooking pot

Miami Nights
Above: Chef Passarrelli –                 Below:  Sold out dining room at 170 Bistro for #MiamiNights #culinary expo in Itajuba, Brazil

Chef Michael brought to the Chef Passarelli’s Bistro 170 recipes that were conceived by mingling ideas from two of his four cookbooks. The Miami Nights menu was highlighted by the fact that some of the food enjoyed would never have been seen in Itajuba without Chef Michael Bennett packing them up in his suitcase and bringing them with him from Miami. It was not a specific ingredient that made this culinary expo unique, it was the cookery techniques and artistic food pairings that made taste-buds stand up and take notice.

Miami Nights menu overview
Menu overview pictorial

        The meal started with two choices of appetizers, continued with three entrees picks and finished with two options in dessert. A Miami favorite, an appetizer of Mahi Mahi ceviche was at times the most popular of the night. This recipe was paired with one of Chef Michael favorite recipe side dishes; baby greens en vase. This is where Chef Michael places baby greens – that are rolled into a bouquet (like a bouquet of wild flowers) – and squeezes them into a vase cut from a cucumber.

Mahi Ceviche and Baby greens en vase #nytcooking
Mahi ceviche and Baby greens en vase #nytcooking
Close up of Mahi Ceviche
Close up of Mahi ceviche
Ceviche in Brazil from @michaelinmiami
Ceviche in Brazil from @michaelinmiami

      The second appetizer selection was one of Chef Michael’s favorite cookbook recipes called Lucky 13 curry spiced shrimp. A sugarcane stalk is cut down to form a skewer and the shrimp is threaded onto this skewer. This sugarcane is not only the implement use to eat the shrimp with but it also becomes a taste altering, marinating and moisturizing maneuver to safeguard the texture of the shrimp while grilling. Because of the fragrant and honeyed flavor of the sugarcane shrimp, Chef Michael needed to place this atop an approachable taste-variance counterpoint of Kimchee made with green (under-ripe) papaya that he learned about in the Caribbean while living there (circa 2006-2009).

 

 

13 curry spiced Sugarcaned shrimp atop Caribbean Kimchee #96hoursinbrazil #nytimestravel #nytcooking
13 curry spiced Sugarcaned shrimp atop Caribbean Kimchee #96hoursinbrazil #nytimestravel #nytcooking

       Entrees were a South Florida milieu consisting of a certified Angus NY strip steak, with an extraordinary three-day sprouted mustard seed~Robert (row-bair) sauce and Angry pommery-balsamic, pan-roasted potatoes.

mustard seeds
NY strip Steak with a 3-day sprouted mustard seed Robert sauce.

        Another of Chef Michael Bennett’s favorite cookbook recipes that became a bombshell best seller on the third night of this culinary exposition was a Caribbean sweet spiced Mahi Mahi with a Caribbean avocado and Italian scampi salad. Last but not least was the apogee of a true South Florida and Caribbean cookery ideal; Brazilian espresso marinated, grilled pork loin and lobster-saffron (Miami-style) Paella risotto made with an infusion of locally produced in the city just a stone’s throw away from Itajuba; Mascarpone cheese.

scampi and avocado sald
scampi and avocado salad with Caribbean spiced Mahi Mahi and tobacco onions

Finally….

      Citrus is extremely important in this area of Brazil as is cheese so to highlight this, Chef Michael Bennett paired his recipes to reflect the locally available foods for Itajuba’s first culinary expo. The aftermath of all this was the dinner’s finishing touches of Chef Michael’s Saint Maarten, FIVE-liquor Tiramisu made with local Brazilian espresso and locally produced Mascarpone cheese.

The second dessert choice of a Brazilian chocolate and cardamom seed ganached base of a passionfruit – that is always extremely popular in Brazil – Tart; with a cardamom-ricotta cheese (also a locally produced cheese) Mousse dressed with a caramelized citrus sauce was a fitter selection proving Chef Michael use of localized ingredient theory.

passionfruit and chocolate
Two of the most important things in the Brazilian kitchen’s pantry; chocolate and passionfruit collide in this Passionfruit Tart dessert especially formatted for this #miaminights event

  

Tiramesu
Chef Michael Bennett’s FIVE Liquor Tiramesu
    The dinner was of course topped off with a multiple red and white Chilean wine selections.   
Wine selection for #Miaminights
Wine selection for #Miaminights

An Afternoon in another Country or, it just seems that way….

Campos do Jordao; the city that Switzerland lost during the last continental shift.

    This is a city that if you did not drive here yourself, you would believe that you were secretly discarded in Switzerland by alien abductors.

       Traveling a little more than an hour from our Itajuba gastronomic haven we ventured out early in the afternoon to Campos Do Jordao and toured the city’s mountainous (elevation: 6,000 feet) neighborhoods and after we crossed the city’s gates anyone can tell that this city was going to be very different.

The architecture in this city is amazing  #nytimestravel
The architecture in this city is amazing #nytimestravel
The architecture in this city is amazing  #nytimestravel
The architecture in this city is amazing #nytimestravel
The architecture in this city is amazing  #nytimestravel
The architecture in this city is amazing #nytimestravel
The architecture in this city is amazing  #nytimestravel
The architecture in this city is amazing #nytimestravel
The architecture in this city is amazing  #nytimestravel
The architecture in this city is amazing #nytimestravel
The architecture in this city is amazing  #nytimestravel
The architecture in this city is amazing #nytimestravel
The architecture in this city is amazing  #nytimestravel
The architecture in this city is amazing #nytimestravel

This city is known to be Brazil’s fashionable Swiss hot chocolate and fondue capital.

This is a place that in the wintertime (June and July –where the population quadruples) is filled with Brazilians fleeing the warm climes of equatorial Brazil to feel as though they absconded the South American continent to vacation in Switzerland’s Alps. This town is purely a vacationer’s paradise. Even in the Brazilian summer, the nights are chilly at this altitude. The town is filled with gift stores, restaurants, bars and seems to be the only reason that people are on the streets, rambling between one watering hole to another. Some people actually use the city’s antique commuter train to do this like a metro trolley.

Sao Lourenco (the Water City) and the Hotel Brasil

Overview of the city of Sao Laurenco, Brazil
Overview of the city of Sao Laurenco, Brazil

This city is the ultimate spring (September to October) afternoon city. A trip to Brazil’s water city can’t be complete without touring it greatest asset – the Water Park.

Entrance of #saolaurencos water park #96hoursinbrazil
Entrance of #saolaurencos water park
#96hoursinbrazil

The park is a walking tour of nine different tastings of naturally occurring springs. All have of the water stations have different tasting water because of the changing mineral content of each spring. To me it was just amazing to see an adjoining park district separated by little more than a few hundred yards yet, the taste from the wells were completely dissimilar.

Carbonated water spring

Description for the naturally sparkling water spring.

Each spring has different medicinal purposes.

Water station in Sao Lauernco's water park
Water station in Sao Laurenco’s water park
Bottling our own Naturally sparkling water in #saoLaurenco
Bottling our own Naturally sparkling water in #SaoLaurenco
sights in brazil #96hoursinbrazil #nytimestravel
Sights in Brazil #96hoursinbrazil #nytimestravel

      Opposite the park (Parque das Águas) district of São Lourenço; in the city center is a tradition in São Lourenço, Brazil – the Hotel Brasil.

Brazil's best hotel #hotelBrasil
Across the lake view of #HotelBrasil #nytimestravel
#hotelBrasil
Lakeview of #HotelBrasil

An afternoon at the park will lead to a family in need of replenishment. Directly in front of the Water Park is the Hotel Brasil (com – Certificate of Excellence 2014). Since the founding of this area and the discovery of the healthful spring water, the Hotel Brasil has been there.

#hotelBrasil walking up from water park
#HotelBrasil walking up from water park
Art in #hotelBrasil
Art collection in the #HotelBrasil in @saoLaurenco Brazil

The hotel stands out for its gentle care. This has been the branding the hotel exemplifies since the end of WW1.

 

Evaluation:

He who evaluates this hotel can not lose sight that Hotel Brasil has a full life story and during its existence it has been home to media and social personalities to Presidents of Brazil. Charming and this hotel today still keeps the glamour of the 1920’s DECO era despite several generational renovations and expansions.

Depiction of the #saoLaurenco area around #hotelBrasil in 1920
Depiction of the #saoLaurenco area around #HotelBrasil in 1920

Decor:

The building is antiquated and flows with (the) DECO style of Rio de Janeiro and South Beach of the 1920’s and 30’s

Deco hotel #hotelBrasil

Welcoming

Antiques neverywhere

Antiques neverywhere

Marble everywhere

Ambiance:

The ambiance is kick started with the ageless marble that surrounds you like a luxurious frock, in every sector of the hotel. Timeless flooring instigates your eyes to notice to original artisan-crafted windows and doors.

Antiques neverywhere

Don’t want to compare Hotel Brasil network hotels like; Holiday Inn, Hilton or Marriott. The hotel stands out for his gentle care and this branding is what the hotel exemplifies. It is a place that provides good moments of peace, beautiful photos with friends or family.

Sentimental value.

       Since 1917 this family has been keeping the doors of Hotel Brasil open for road warriors and the summertime family vacationer. This will be the hotel you’ll want to come back to year after the year cared for by the same waiters that have been there for over 30 years. Reserve a stay on the south side of the hotel… to get views of the water park and its lake. The north side of the hotel has views of the city.

The family that owns a fab Deco hotel #hotelBrazil
The family that owns a fab Deco hotel #HotelBrazil

Recipe example from #96hoursinBrazil

96 hours in Brazil salad

Serves: 4

Like so any other things in this book, this recipe is as twisted in its conception, carry through as it is as diverse as the ingredients that are in the recipe itself.

My edification in the Culinary Arts led me to explore South America and the Brazilian cookery culture. I have found the cookery culture of northern Brazil’s traditions and recipes are akin to the Caribbean cookery heritage because these states were originally made up of peoples escaping Caribbean slavery.  Mango, pineapple and dozens of comparable fruits and vegetables in the Brazilian pantry are the same as the Caribbean’s pantry.

Many parts of Brazil have a residential heritage of people from the Mediterranean and Middle East. This is why I have included traveling to Brazil in my research for recipes in this book. Sao Paulo, the financial capital of Brazil, has over 15 million people and 5,000 eateries with Mediterranean cookery heritages.

Cheese and dairy is a large part of the culinary culture of the centric states in Brazil. There are more dairy cattle in States like Minas Gerais than in any other part of Brazil. The addition to cheese to any meal in Brazil is as common as adding salt and pepper to your steak. I have based this recipe in a slightly different form to represent the Mediterranean experienced in this Brazilian recipe.

Ingredients:

Main Recipe

1 each        Romaine lettuce, heart only, chiffonade finely

½ cup         Kale, shred into a razor-fine chiffonade, see note

6 logs         Hearts of palm

2 each       Bell pepper, red, roasted, cut into chunks

2 each       Mangos, diced

1 cup         Pineapple, sliced thin into 2”x1/2” pieces, caramelize, see directions

1 each       Shallot, fine chopped

2 stalks     Scallions, sliced finely, on the bias

1 cup         Labneh, yogurt cheese, buy in gourmet market or, see note 2

As needed      Pecans, see sub-recipe

As needed      Microgreens, assorted

As needed      Grape-cherry Tomatoes, halved

Sub-recipe: candied nuts:

1 cup          Pecans, halved and pieces (you can substitute walnuts)

1/3 cup      Sugar

2 Tbs.         Water

Pinch          Salt

½ tsp.         Vanilla

Sub-recipe: the Dressing:

4 each          Passion fruit pulp, Brazilian P.F. is much sweeter than in USA

1 Tbs.           Lime juice

1 Tbs.           Mirin, sweetened Rice wine

2 Tbs.           Shallots, diced

2 Tbs.           Honey (if using P.F. pulp from the USA)

Pinch            Salt

½ cup           EVO

Directions:

Wash and dry lettuce, and cut into thin ribbons. Place in bowl. Save to the side. When the other parts of the recipe (main recipe) are accomplished toss together in the bowl and then scoop up all the ingredients and place into a 2 inch stacking tube with a 2 ½ inch diameter. Place an appropriate sized bottle (ketchup bottle) over the top and with a light pushing motion slide the stacking tub up the bottle while removing the salad contents into a stack in the center of the plate.

Drizzle the plate with dressing and garnish the plate with Microgreens and halved cherry tomatoes.

Sub-recipe: Pecans

Prepare candied nuts: Place sugar, water, and salt in small saucepan and bring to a boil on medium heat. Add the nuts and cook, stirring constantly. As the water evaporates, the sugar will turn granular in appearance. Keep stirring until sugar starts to melt and caramelize. Once the sugar has melted and you can see a light brown caramel color forming on the bottom of the pan.  Stir in the vanilla and pick out the nuts onto a piece of parchment paper to let cool. Add to main recipe.
To caramelize the pineapple; quickly dip the pineapple pieces in the same liquid and remove after one minute. Place on parchment and let cool as well. Add to main recipe.
        Prepare the dressing: Place passion fruit and the rest of the ingredients (except oil) in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the oil is slowly to incorporate fully. Check for seasoning and place in a container that can be used to easily apply the dressing to the plate. I use a squirt bottle. Follow directions above.
NOTES:

In Brazil I found that in all the Farmers markets where I visited, street hawkers and little old ladies behind the shamble they called a booth, there were small bags of shaved greens. The greens were shavings of Kale. A great green for garnishing plates, salads and it could be used to bolster the vitamin content of any main dish by quick sautéing and placing aside an entrée.

In this recipe, I am going to use it as a thickening Hay in the recipe, like the Egyptians used hay in the mud mortar blocks to build the Pyramids.

Note 2:

Labneh, yogurt cheese is made by taking 1 ½ times as much yogurt for the amount of cheese that the recipe calls for, and add a couple pinches of salt, stir it in and place in a cheesecloth. Gather up the ends of the cheesecloth and tie into a hanging bundle. Place in your refrigerator with a shallow pan underneath the bundle to catch the moisture that escapes.

 Tip: Tie the cheesecloth with twine and hang the cheesecloth from the rack/shelf with the twine, to increase Gravity’s pull on the cheese thus increasing the rate and the amount of liquid oozing out from the yogurt.

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As my Vacation starts today for this year, previous years Vacations come to mind

Before my Vacation…Started?
Well it started out the same way…rush out of work before anyone actually noticed that I was trying to leave for my vacation.

Rushing sounds kinda funny when it is 3:45 AM. After putting in my usual 12 hour day in the restaurant, we have to setup for the Nite club that starts at 12 am 5 nights a week. So when I say that I try to sneak out at 3:45 am I am because we are open till 5 am.

Back when the air was still hot and the sun was high in the sky, I had to set the dining room because the waiter didn’t show up on time. After setting the outside bar I tried to get things organized in the kitchen so I can leave without worrying that the kitchen will run out of food in the first day after I leave.

I decide to do inventory and ordering later (I didn’t know later meant 3 am) and I start to inventory food supplies. As I get the prep list done, just in time as the first order comes in over the computer, I see that I have a butt-load of prep work that …. I have to handle. Being the chef and manager of a 300 seat restaurant does keep one busy (20 hours a day). After the first hour of prep time I finally get a cook to wonder in. He has a list too. Although I know he won’t be able to get his list done while preparing orders for lunch, I tell him these items have to be done for the PM staff before you leave.

Just as I finish doing 90 percent of my prep list, my partner (Michael Jr.) comes in and says that he is ready to finish the renovations to our niteclub now! Well it is un-mercifully hot in the middle of the day upstairs since the air conditioners only keep the room bearable during the day, and they haven’t been turned on yet. Since hurricane Wilma blew one of our 10 ton air conditioners off the roof, the other air units haven’t been able to keep the place cool. Junior comes back and tells me the room will be cool in a minute (which really means he will be ready in an hour) and we will go up to start with the installations of TV monitors and moving the stages for our niteclub event. So I finish over 10 percent of the prep list!

It is now mid-afternoon and it feel like the day is half gone and I haven’t started anything yet because I know the project we are about to undertake will take the rest of the evening. Just as we are planning out the placement of the monitors, the sound guy shows up and tells us he was planning to move the speaker system around to optimize what we had in the place AND, was going to take and move some of the furniture to do it. So not only am I going to be moving stages, but moving furniture for him too. Well, at least this guy helps out. We don’t have to ask him to move the speakers; he wants to do it to make the sound better.

Getting back to my vacation I think….when the hell I will be able to leave. I doesn’t look like we are ever going to be done. As a matter of fact WE DIDN’T GET DONE UNTIL THE PARTY WAS STARTING AT 11:30 PM. of course I had to get out of what I was doing to go out front and control the door. The crowd was already there for 40-50 minutes waiting to get in and they were asking the staff when we will be opening. So I rush down stairs, without cleaning up throw on a clean dress shirt, because I am soaking wet all the way to my shoes, and jump on the entrance of the club. Security has already started to let the waiting hoard in.

I count the people at the downstairs bar and can tell we have been open for a few minutes because there is already 60 people drinking and talking in the Martini Bar. After a few minutes I scurry off to the front door and try to get a handle on the carnage happening with a crowd that has been waiting too long. I notice it is 12:00 am and we are half full downstairs already. The sound is blasting from the new system upstairs. It does sound better.

As the night progresses, I have to jump into the VIP line and get the security guards to actually do their job and read ID’s from the guest. “Just because they are in the VIP line doesn’t mean they can get in without having an ID” I tell them. The night wears on as usual. The steam of patrons never seems to end. It is now 2:00am and the crowd is finally starting to diminish. There is about 450 people inside which is just an okay size crowd for a Wednesday night. I walk around the second floor check on the bartenders, to see if anything is need to replenish the backup stock of liquor, check on the food servers to see if they are low on anything on the buffet line and cruise downstairs to check on the Martini Bar again. Of course the bar back is running all the time, but the liquor cabinet upstairs is emptying quickly, so I grab him and give him some stock to replenish the cabinet.

At 2:30 am everything is good. Things are happening on the dance floor that you might only see in a Bordello, but the new sound system is making the room rumble and shake. I notice that the TV monitors that we worked on all day are off. What happened? Nobody knew that had to restart the Dance Video after it ended. So I put it on loop mode and split. It is 3:00 am I am just now getting to order the food for the weekend (while I am on vacation). I finish, leave the clip board on the desk and get ready to pack up all my shit from the office to take home. Clothes are packed up, laptop is loaded but my head is saying leave before someone cuts me off and I can make out the back door. I sit at my desk, pondering, are the police coming today? Is the crowd getting rowdy? Dare I try to leave with an hour still to go before the party wraps up? I walk around the back of the building, check all the rear entrances, check the front entrances, check security out front, everything seems okay, so I move my butt into gear and get to the car. Start the ignition as my vacation starts….

Thank you Charlie Trotter for among other things the Micro-greens Industry. Charlie Trotter: A pioneer of an entire industry.

Charlie Trotter chef and author of a dozen cookbooks, passed away on Tuesday, “had a huge impact not just on our family farm but on small family farms in America,” persisted Central Florida’s favorite Microgreens farmer Marvin Wilhite. We as a Foodie Nation look at plant-based entrees differently today thanks to Charlie Trotter who pushed for and voiced to our Nation what is available and the way we should prepare them in ways that had never been considered before.

Micros Speical delivery herbs

Before chefs in our Nation knew about the healthy aspects of Microgreens, chefs asked, ‘Why didn’t you let it grow up?”  What are you doing picking them so young?’ When Charlie said he would like to have healthy-conscious baby greens that were young and tender but, full of flavor and is different than what anybody else is doing, micro-farms like Cahaba Club Herbal Outpost were born.

Trotter was worn-out with using mesclun (the salad mix of baby lettuces), baby arugula, young chervil and assorted endives that were ubiquitous in the ’80s, and needed something new that would blow his customers away. Before Charlie there wasn’t an example of a chef using immature food products. He really pioneered it. Growing specialty microgreens and microherbs for the premiere chefs, not just micro-lettuces and heirloom tomatoes, baby squash, baby carrots, golden pea tendrils grown in the dark grew from with Charlie’s need to surprise his guests with every plate.

New York Times features a special South Florida restaurant

On a small 10 acre microgreens farm just outside of Tampa, Florida, Cahaba Club grows more than 30 individual micro-greens and micro-herbs, as well as small heirloom vegetables, specialty baby lettuces and edible flowers.  This is the house that Charlie would have built himself to supply his quintessential eateries around the world. Trotter challenged us to grow things.

There have been a lot of farms that watched what chef Trotter did over the years and grew stylistic foods that he required. He has done more to influence American agriculture than any other chef.

His constant philosophy of the pursuit of excellence, he was constantly searching and pushing for what had never been considered before: the flowers of vegetables (garlic blossoms and carrots make a beautiful flower), rather than the root of a plant that had traditionally been grown for cookery.

Trotter worked closely with the farms like those akin to Cahaba Club Herbal Outpost. This teamwork built an industry that has endured for more than two decades.

Review: In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks cookbook

One of my favorite things to receive as someone who reviews gluten-free products is cookbooks. I am always looking for new recipes to expand what I make at home, so while it is always fun to read new cookbooks and share with others, it is also for selfish reasons, because I love to cook and try new things in my own kitchen. Native Floridian, Chef Michael Bennett offered to send me a copy of his new cookbook, In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks , which focuses on Caribbean cooking, so of course I was thrilled.

In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks

As soon as the book arrived, I started reading it from cover to cover. The dishes and flavors sounds really interesting, using combinations of spices and flavorings that are not typical in other parts of the world. Many of these dishes are naturally gluten-free and provide the reader with the comfort and knowledge that while many recipes need to be converted to be safely gluten-free, many that we already love are gluten-free in their original format, without the label “gluten-free”. Not only are they naturally gluten-free, but they are also healthy and made of clean ingredients, leaving out processed foods and empty cards, which is what really attracts me.

The recipes in this cookbook are very seafood/fish heavy, so if you like fish, which I do, then this is great for you. There are a couple of chicken, beef and pork recipes, but for the most part the book focuses on the sea as is typical for the Caribbean.

Charolette Amalie Wahoo
chef Michael's "deep" flavored GLUTEN FREE Wahoo dish

I did feel the bulk of the recipes were sauces, and that many of the non-sauce recipes in the book called for one of the sauces, so most likely you will be making one of the sauces in order to make many of these dishes. Most of the sauces and seasonings have quite a few ingredients in them, with most of them being pretty common things we may already have in the kitchen, and a few of them being less common that we may have to search for at an international market, such as guarapo (sugarcane juice), Seville orange marmalade, and guava paste.

With the above being said, I really enjoyed the content of the book, but feel the presentation of it may cause someone not to look twice. Unfortunately, it is not a coffee table book to flip through while drooling over photos, but if you are looking for unique, fresh and clean recipes this is a great cookbook to check out.

WAhoo Charolette Amalie

One of my favorite things to receive as someone who reviews gluten-free products is cookbooks. I am always looking for new recipes to expand what I make at home, so while it is always fun to read new cookbooks and share with others, it is also for selfish reasons, because I love to cook and try new things in my own kitchen. Native Floridian, Chef Michael Bennett offered to send me a copy of his new cookbook, In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks , which focuses on Caribbean cooking, so of course I was thrilled.

As soon as the book arrived, I started reading it from cover to cover. The dishes and flavors sounds really interesting, using combinations of spices and flavorings that are not typical in other parts of the world. Many of these dishes are naturally gluten-free and provide the reader with the comfort and knowledge that while many recipes need to be converted to be safely gluten-free, many that we already love are gluten-free in their original format, without the label “gluten-free”. Not only are they naturally gluten-free, but they are also healthy and made of clean ingredients, leaving out processed foods and empty cards, which is what really attracts me.

The recipes in this cookbook are very seafood/fish heavy, so if you like fish, which I do, then this is great for you. There are a couple of chicken, beef and pork recipes, but for the most part the book focuses on the sea as is typical for the Caribbean.

I did feel the bulk of the recipes were sauces, and that many of the non-sauce recipes in the book called for one of the sauces, so most likely you will be making one of the sauces in order to make many of these dishes. Most of the sauces and seasonings have quite a few ingredients in them, with most of them being pretty common things we may already have in the kitchen, and a few of them being less common that we may have to search for at an international market, such as guarapo (sugarcane juice), Seville orange marmalade, and guava paste.
Now, with how much I love the topic and flavors of the cookbook, I was disappointed in the actually quality of the physical product. My favorite thing about cookbooks are the photos and this book seriously lacked in quality photos. Having a background in editing, I can’t help but look at the photo quality, the font, the layout, etc… So, I was surprised to see the low resolution and quality of photos used, even for the cover. The photos throughout the book were stretched and grainy, and looked as if they were copied and pasted from the internet. The font was too big, and made readability difficult with the use of all caps and bolded letters. My last critique is the use of QR codes throughout the book, including the cover. I understand it is effective in driving the reader to websites about where to find certain ingredients or to learn more about a dish, but there are just too many throughout the book, and they are too large and distracting. His website has beautiful food photos, if only these carried on through the book.

With the above being said, I really enjoyed the content of the book, but feel the presentation of it may cause someone not to look twice. Unfortunately, it is not a coffee table book to flip through while drooling over photos, but if you are looking for unique, fresh and clean recipes this is a great cookbook to check out.

Review: In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks Cookbook

Gluten free recipe from the new cookbook “In the Land of Misfit, Pirates and Cooks”.

Gluten-free, Savory Sweet recipe for Wahoo, a fish with unusually good flavor and this dish is as healthy as it is delicious

Charolette Amaile Wahoo –
a Caribbean-influenced gluten free recipe.
Serves: 6
Chef Michael Bennett says this is a simply elegant gluten free dish and its depth in taste equals that of the port for which it is named. The port of Charoltte Amaile (St Thomas U.S.V.I.) is deep enough for the Queen Mary 2 (largest steamliner in the world) to be docked.
The gluten-free recipe calls for Wahoo but, chef Michael Bennett says you can also substitute Mahi Mahi or Cobia. Both are great locally caught fish that is extremely popular in Miami. This sauce is a glaze to be “mopped” over the fillet of Wahoo as it cooks on a wood-fire grill. Chef Michael gives us this recipe to highlight some of the Gluten-free recipes in his new cookbook “In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks”.

Ingredients:
3 lbs. Wahoo, evenly divided into 6 portions
1/2 cup Caramel mop, see recipe below
As needed Salt and white pepper, 5:1 ratio-mixed
2 tbs. Thai peanut sauce dry mix, found in Asian markets
1 cup Plantain chips, found in Latino grocery markets
As needed Oil
3 cup Yucca pieces, 1/2 inch chopped, blanched in boiling salted water
1 each Red bell pepper, roasted and chopped roughly
1 each Shallot, chopped
2 each Garlic kernels, finely chopped
2 bunch Pencil asparagus, blanched in salted water

Directions:
Dust the wahoo with a little of the salt and pepper mixture. Let rest in the refrigerator, while you are doing the other parts of this recipe. Grind the plantains into a meal with a food processor. Add in the Thai peanut sauce base mixture. Mix well.
Over hot coals, grill the wahoo fillet for 3 minutes per 1 inch of thickness on one side and then flip and cook 3 minutes more on the other side, glazing with the caramel mop as it cooks. Coat with the Thai peanut-plantain mixture on the top of the fillets of wahoo after the second side is cooked. Keep in a warm oven.
Next, saute the shallots and garlic quickly, add the yucca and continue to cook about three minutes. Toss in the peppers and saute (”to jump”) to distribute them in the pan. Press the yucca into a 4 or 5 inch ring mold in the center of the plate. Remove the mold and set the wahoo on top. Encircle this presentation with more of the caramel mop sauce. Arrange the asparagus around the yucca, pointing out to the edges of the plate like the hands of a clock.

Second part of recipe:
Caramel Mop
Serves: 25
One of my favorite “mops” for grilled NY strip steaks and richly flavored fish fillets like mahi mahi, wahoo, escolar and even salmon.

Ingredients
12 oz. Coca-Cola, reduced to a syrup
4 oz. Espresso
4 oz. Garlic, roasted, chopped
6 oz. Shallots, chopped
2 oz. Apple juice concentrate
3 oz. Kahlua liquor
3 oz. GF Soy sauce
2 oz. Balsamic vinegar
1 oz. Frangelico liquor
1 oz. Triple sec
5 oz. Pick a peppa sauce, see weblink QR code
2 tbs. Black pepper
2 tbs. Seasalt
2 tbs. Xanthan Gum

Instructions:
In a small pan, bring 12 oz. of Coca-Cola to a boil and let this volume reduce by 2/3. Add the next 10 items to the pot and let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. Place in a food processor and grind well until everything is pulverized into a slurry. Add the thickener slowly to this mix and place in a squirt bottle.

To use:
Drizzle this “mop” (sauce) over top any grilled poultry, pork, beef or baby back rib and brush all around the food as it is cooking atop the grill.

Read more: http://www.thedailymeal.com/gluten-free-recipe-new-cookbook-land-misfit-pirates-and-cooks#ixzz1br7YOh28
http://www.thedailymeal.com/gluten-free-recipe-new-cookbook-land-misfit-pirates-and-cooks#ixzz1ZHs1Ukva

Culture of Cuisine: Chef Michael Bennett Writes a Workbook

By Laine Doss Mon., Oct. 17 2011 at 8:50 AM excerpt taken from New Time magazine on line
Chef Michael Bennett writes a workbook….
​Michael Bennett isn’t content to just sit around on a rare day off from his executive chef job atBimini Boatyard. Instead of sunning or fishing, Bennett writes.

With two Caribbean-influenced cookbooks under his belt, In The Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks,

In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks

 

 

and Underneath a Cloudless Sky,

Underneath a Cloudless Sky
Chef Michael's second book.

 

Bennett decided to write a book geared to professional chefs and culinary students.

The 140-page Culture of Cuisine is a cross between a textbook and a series of essays from a chef with three decades in the kitchen.

Culture of Cuisine by chef Michael Bennett
Chef Michael's third book about South Florida cooking and chefs.

In the book, Bennett gives his thoughts on everything from the changing tides of modern American cuisine to a run-down of chefs who have influenced and changed the dining scene in south Florida.

You’ll find no recipes in Culture. Instead, students of cooking will find insider tips for running a restaurant usually not on a culinary school curriculum like how to design a brand, market yourself, and use social media to spread the word about your restaurant.

QR codes throughout the book unlock chef interviews, websites and blogs for additional insight into the south Florida cooking scene.

Michael Bennett
​Though written with professionals in mind, Culture of Cuisine is a good read for any south Florida food enthusiast. With chapters that include a timeline of Florida cuisine, features on influential south Florida chefs like Allen Susser, Norman Van Aken and Michael Bloise, and an intimate look inside a commercial kitchen, this book gives the reader a portrait of what it takes to be a professional chef.

Bennett told Clean Plate Charlie that Culture of Cuisine is actually the first in a three-part series. This first book focuses on chef ideals. Part two will work on techniques and the third book will tie everything together. The volumes are designed to serve as a non-traditional workbook for up and coming chefs.

Chef Michael Bennett featured in the Sun-Sentinel newspaper

Spiked sweets:

Desserts that get cheers and booze
Here’s proof that a little alcohol in treats can lift everyone’s spirits

Bimini Boatyard’s chocolate cake is made with Jack Daniel’s, Myer’s Rum, Kahlua, Frangelico and Grand Marnier. (Ginny Dixon, Sun Sentinel / October 6, 2011)

Recipe: Jack Black and friends’ death by chocolate from Bimini Boatyard

by: Jan Norris, Correspondent

October 6, 2011

At Bimini Boatyard Bar & Grill in Fort Lauderdale, chef Michael Bennett sometimes takes inspiration from the bar.

It was the Death by chocolate martini — vodka, half-and-half, chocolate liqueur and dark creme de cacao — that led him to create a dessert he calls Jack Black and friends’ death by chocolate.

Bennett starts with mini-cakes in muffin tins from a boxed mix. He soaks them in a buttery-liquor concoction and then coats them in a smooth chocolate ganache spiked with the same liquors.

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They may be mini, but their kick is mighty.

“It explodes with flavor,” says Bennett. “Even a little piece will send you to chocolate heaven.”

death by chocolate by chef michael bennett
Death by Chocolate, a five liquor ganache cake

Created three years ago, they’re so popular that he doesn’t dare take them off the menu.

Chefs across South Florida are taking their cues from bartenders. That’s because mixologists are the latest culinary geniuses. They create sweet, and sometimes savory, concoctions that elevate even the simplest bar experience. Think Cucumber-basil-mint juleps and Smoky maple bacon old-fashioneds.

Pickled fruits, infusions of herbs and vegetables, mad scientist-like foams are spun behind the bar and squirted into drinks. Inside kitchens, those concoctions get translated into some heady send-offs that pack plenty of punch.

At Spin Ultra Lounge in Boca Raton, chef Jason Feinberg riffs on popular melon martinis with frozen melon martini balls. He uses a vacuum bag to speed the infusion process, frozen with a spike of vodka. They make a fun and cool end to a patio party, especially when presented in an oversized martini glass.

At Prime, a Delray Beach steakhouse, chef Peter Masiello turns cookies and milk into an over-21 experience. Adult chocolate milk — nothing like the Hershey’s and milk of your childhood — is paired with a white chocolate chip cookie spiked with white chocolate liqueur. If you can’t make it to Prime, make them at home. Just keep the kids out of the cookie jar.

The Breakers has a different take on old stand-by tiramisu. Executive pastry chef Elmar Wolf tips in Kahlua along with Marsala wine to create a Spirited cappuccino tiramisu for the resort’s The Italian Restaurant.

Several restaurants, including Hyatt Regency’s Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale, serve Mojito cheesecakes. We have a version of this mint-lime-rum cheesecake concoction that makes individual servings. Since these freeze well, you can pop a few in the freezer for impromptu desserts.

When serving these booze-filled desserts, consider serving a cordial glass of the liqueur used in the recipe for an elegant finish to your meal. Not that you’ll necessarily need any more booze.

When you think about it we will never dine again, like we did a decade ago.

With the generational gap between the 70’s counter culture people (Boomer’s) – that demanded uber-chic foods from their restaurants in the 1980’s – to today’s dining public: the Y-generation; that has lived through multiple economic down-turns and, Social Revolution over the past two decades; our current dining clientele have no idea what opulent fine dining should be.
The dining populace today is looking for dwindling prices and bold flavors. They are not looking for quality products that are organized in rich visual appeal; it has to be immediate and scrumptious without convoluted service attributes. The dining public that insisted on a 2 ½ hour dining experience is now long gone. Those people are now investing their disposable income in supporting their aging parents, instead of treating themselves to an evening of culinary pleasures.
There is one avenue in culinary field that is growing in affluence and totality; it is the Gourmet Market segment. Companies such as: Wild Oats, Whole Foods and The Fresh Market are the Big Three that are more popular today than anyone could have imagined in the beginning of the 1990’s, when this groundswell was set in motion. It is mainly because if the Boomer’s are not going out to eat in fine dining venues, they are treating themselves now to superlative foods cooked at home. Their teen-age kids are being brought up expecting this should be the norm foods at home before they leave to go to college, it seems as though this trend will transverse to the next generation unlike fine dining of the 1980’s.
Are they the Future?
Gourmet markets flaunting the highest quality cheeses from Europe, olive oils from around the Mediterranean, prime-aged meats and fresh locally harvested seafood, with occasional hints of health-consciousness abound in and around South Florida. Any metropolitan area you go, you will see the big three. There are also a few exceptions to cities where the Big Three haven’t made inroads, where home-grown gourmet markets budded from long-standing family-owned local food markets. These markets over the decades saw that as their clientele gained esteem through their occupations, so did their need to live prestigiously at home. Coupled with the lack of formal dining out of the home and the need to still treat oneself metropolitan gourmet markets flourish.
Look across the Southern United States, were retiring “Boomers” are now settling for a quite retirement from the rat race and see there is an increasing demand for Gourmet and prepared food markets. Looking across Florida, Arizona and Texas, gourmet markets like: Epicure, Norman Brother’s, Gardener’s (all in Miami), Fernanda’s and Doris markets in Fort Lauderdale and Carmine’s of Palm Beach, Rice Epicurean and Eatzies in Houston and Dallas, Central Market in San Antonio, Texas, AJ’s fine foods in Phoenix, have been growing in popularity and scope. I can remember going shopping downtown to the only place in Fort Lauderdale that sells deCecco pasta, Fernanda’s with my Grand Mother in the 1970’s. This is the way it starts for generational cooking at home. The boomers have already indoctrinated their college aged kids to expect these markets to fulfill their needs for the future.
It has been a long journey for the family markets but, this segment is expanding faster than most any other segment of the food service spectrum. “We have seen the growth in sales rise ever since the Boomers started to retire”, say the gourmet store manager I interviewed. In Tampa and Sarasota area of the Florida’s West Coast, there is up and coming places like Surf and Turf Market, and Morton’s that have broken away from the Mom and Pop attitude to roasted in house gourmet coffee beans, supply in-house prepared entire Home Meal Replacements, dedicate a major part of the floor space to European cheeses and charcuteire that until recently these commonalities were unattainable in the United States. Across the southern United States, we have seen larger towns and cities where this happens. These markets have been building in reputation for the last decade.

The NEW Social Scene:
A newly unexpected social scene for Boomers, occur at gourmet markets. Not only do people linger long at their favorite markets, purchasing specialty foods for dinner, shopping has become a see and be seen sport. It has become universal rationale to go to your favorite marketplace to spend the afternoon socializing with friends. The social culture has changed from the “me generation” to the “we generation”. As the years pass into decades, the Boomer generation finds that their kids have gone to College and now they have to look outside their home-based life to reintegrate into a social path. “Boomers” are now living their “empty-nest” lives through the social and communal aspects of shopping and the Internet. Now that their lives are freer, without children at home the need to be a part of a community grows. Being seen at these markets reaffirms their place in social order of things. Using the Internet is bring the whole right to their computer screen.
The Internet and the markets are now the new Discos for the We Generation. We all want to be interconnected with others, it is a social thing. The society as a whole went through many stages. First TV generation, then it was Cable and it’s broadcasting of specific aspects of the social realm. Cable news brought us together as a country. We all know as much of what is happening in California and New York as around the city in which we live. Cable’s social aspects such as mTV quickly spread to young Americans the Urban sounds that they never would have heard locally in their own rural part of the country without it. The rapid spread of the cable’s cooking program broadcasts have led us to watching shows and their chef hosts that we would have previously read about only on books. This has brought us all to a mindset that we need even more. That is where the Internet has become the number one outlet for information and interconnect-ability.
Not only instantaneous but everyone now can be a star as long as they can reach a dedicated following. Some feel even more interconnected on a more personal basis. With the ability to choose the blogs and YouTube videos to which, the We Generation is able to pull information instead of the classic push advertising that reined a few years ago. The social connection is stronger for those who pull information. They want to know more and seek it out on consistent basis. Dining at home has become influenced by all these evolutions on a daily basis.